Sunday, 31 May 2015

Breaking Into A City Fort - Sion Hillock Fort 2015

I’d like to bifurcate forts into two kinds of places based on where they are located, either a city fort that’s located within the lifeline of a city like Mahim Fort, Wadala Fort, Bandra Fort and also Sion Fort. And Forts like Lohagad, Shivneri, Peb and others that are on hill tops and away from cities either near forests or villages. Sion Fort being a city fort has a view of buildings, offices and streets. It was located on a hill, and I was told by many that it's not really even a fort (Which, I’ll beg to differ with.) it's just a big garden. I still did decide, to make time on a weekday afternoon (Oh, the heat. Evenings and early mornings I guess are better times to go at.). Also, this was a solo trip I decided to do, because it was really spontaneous.

I first took a cab to the base point of the fort. There's a street vendor lemonade guy right at the entrance of the fort, that makes really nice chilled lemonade for 5 bucks a glass. The fort/park timings are usually from 6:30 to 12:30 in the mornings and 4:30 to 8:30 or so in the evenings. I was there at 11:30, and to my surprise the gates were closed. I was so bugged and pissed off, and wanted to hurt someone. But the lemonade guy told me how there are new guards who mess around and close the gates very early and open it late and don’t take care of the place as well. He told me if i’d still like to go I could climb up the wall and jump the gate and go (How exciting!). He mentioned how there a lot of students and kids who break in and play and study in the park and around the fort. I realised how this was my calling to break into forts and live the thug life. I soon began to lift myself and climb  the wall at the side of the gate. Soon I was in, breaking into a fort for the first time ever. I climbed the stairs that took me to the larger entrance and the park. It was a very well maintained park with good tracks and seating arrangements. I saw a lot of youngsters studying for exams and kids running around. There was also a lot of birds chirping and squirrels running around. I soon began to climb towards the fort. There is huge entrance like structure at a height that you’d see stairs guiding towards. Also, there is a guide down from the top for during rains for a waterfall to be formed and water to stream downwards. I climbed the stairs spent some time at the entrance, which was windy and bliss.

Soon, I could see the fort, from a distance as I walked towards it. The fort was built under the regime of the English East India Company, between 1669 and 1677, atop a conical hillock when Gerard Aungier was the Governor of Bombay. It was notified in 1925 as a Grade I Heritage structure.When it was built, the fort marked the boundary between British-held Parel island and the Portuguese held Salsette Island that lay to the north across the creek. The hillock is situated 500 metres from the Sion railway station. At the base of the hill is the Mumbai Circle office of the Archaeological Survey of India, and a garden – the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Udyan. There is a lot of cement and other attempts to try and help the fort to survive, as it looks to be depleting. You can see a lot of Mumbai from the height. And the fort is really beautiful as it has its old and lost vintage feeling about it. It has a lot of rooms, and entrances. It looks mighty from the bottom and has various openings for cannons and attacks to be done from.

It was a great solo trip to do alone. I think I should backpack and head out myself more often. It surely is a more self reflecting and beautiful experience and a change from groups and heading out with fellow travellers. I think the Sion Fort, may not have the charm of a village or a hill top fort. But surely is well kept and has an essence and life of its own. It is one of the most loved and adored forts of Mumbai. Yet there are a lot of people that still do not know about the fort. Its a shame that there are such beautiful historical figures right next to us and we still do not take out the time or make the effort to go visit them or consider it to be cool.

Pictures of the Fort (Sion Hillock Fort 2015):


This is Mr. Happy (Or you can call me Al) signing off, until next time.
Have a great day, and an adventurous weekend! :)                        
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Alvin Anthony

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